I’ve been looking at the presentation of the Prayers of Thanksgiving After Holy Communion as presented in different Orthodox prayer books, and have run across some interesting variants in different editions.
The variation occurs with the theotokion following the troparion and kontakion determined by the Saint whose Liturgy was just celebrated (St John Chrysostom, St Basil the Great, St Gregory the Dialogist).
For instance, in the Jordanville Prayer Book, the theotokion here is a beautiful one: “O protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, O mediation unto the Creator unfailing, disdain not the suppliant voices of sinners; but be thou quick, O good one, to help us who in faith cry unto thee; hasten to intercession and speed thou to make supplication, thou who dost ever protect, O Theotokos, them that honor thee.” (In Greek, this theotokion begins, “Προστασια των Χριστιανων…”.) This appears to be the most common usage, to have some form of this kontakion used in this position. For instance, this appears in The Liturgikon produced by the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, though as a footnote, with yet another variation in the main text, which is related to the recommended kontakion mentioned on the SCOBA site: “The Church is revealed to all as a brilliantly lit heaven, leading the faithful in the way of the light. Standing therein we cry aloud: make firm the foundation of this house, Lord.” This one also appears (though my memory may be playing a trick on me) in this place in the Greek-English Liturgikon published by Narthex Press (which is very nice, by the way).
In the Holy Transfiguration Monastery Prayer Book (which I generally prefer), instead of a theotokion is simply this supplication: “By the intercession, O Lord, of all the Saints and the Theotokos, do Thou grant us Thy peace and have mercy on us, since Thou alone art compassionate.” I contacted the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, and received a prompt reply from Fr Parthenius there, stating that in the typica, such minor variations are many. Their choice has been to find the usage in older, reputable sources, and to follow those. (He didn’t know the specifics in this case.) This is a very helpful and illuminating answer, and a comforting one. So, the HTM Prayer Book’s usage is certainly an old one.
Our brand new priest (new for us, that is) is having these prayers read after the Liturgy, which is a very welcome practice! (Now we’ll just have to get people used to staying for them, rather than rushing off to the coffee hour!) He’s using the Antiochian Liturgikon, which is a nice translation, but I think with a little searching, I’ll be able to find the HTM version of Προστασια των Χριστιανων so that I can simply use my little HTM Prayer Book to follow along and/or read (we read them in English, I should have mentioned). In any case, I’m happy for these prayers now becoming a regular part of our parish life. I certainly had not been consistent at all in praying them, though I really wanted to be. Now I have that opportunity, and we can do it all together, like one of those beautifully admirable Russian parishes!
Another new thing will be a Paraklisis every Wednesday evening followed by a Bible Study, starting next week. What a great thing that’ll be! Next thing you know, we’ll have a whole mess o’ services all week, and I’ll be happy as a clam.